One of the specialties in the city of Hanoi is Banh tom Ho Tay (fried shrimp fritter in West Lake). Its way of processing is rather simple. Fresh shrimps caught in the West Lake is covered with wheat flour, then fried with oil. It is eaten with sweet, sour and spicy fish sauce, vegetable pickles for best taste. Besides, it can also be served with salads and vermicelli. The cake is brittle, soft and sweet-smelling; therefore, it is really an appropriate dish for drinking beer.
The restaurant on Thanh Nien street has long been a familiar address for this special food. Now surrounding the West lake appears several food stalls serving the fried shrimp cakes. Once coming to the capital of Vietnam,
Who doesn’t love anything that’s battered and fried? Banh tom is another Vietnamese dish originating from Hanoi and is made of deep fried battered sweet potato and shrimp. Along the Ho Tay (West lake) in Hanoi, you’ll find the original Banh Tom Ho Tay Restaurant as well as numerous other restaurants serving this delicacy. The orange color is from the natural flesh of sweet potato and a little bit of turmeric powder in the batter. Often served as an appetizer, banh tom is commonly wrapped with lettuce, herbs, and pickled vegetables and dipped in nuoc mam cham.
We actually made this appetizer to serve along with the mi quang (Vietnamese turmeric noodles) we made last month. It was a great combination and shows the versatility of turmeric. We also love a little beer in our batter–give that a try!
- 2 large sweet potatoes (cut into french fry like slices)
- 12 large head and shell on shrimp, deveined (you can also use head and shell off as well, but we prefer everything intact for more crunch!)
- 1 package of tempura batter (several different brands are available in Asian groceries– just follow package instructions–but instead of water, we substitute half water/beer)
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of tumeric powder
- lettuce, herbs such as basil, mint, perilla, Vietnamese balm, pickled carrots and daikon
- nuoc mam cham
Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into thin french fry slices and set aside. Prep the shrimp and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, mix the tempura mix with water, beer, salt, pepper, and tumeric powder. The mixture should be gooey and thick like the consistency of Elmers glue. Add the sweet potatoes and coat well.
Heat frying pan to medium high. Shape the well coated sweet potatoes into a platform for the shrimp, about 4-5 pieces and place in frying pan, making sure they stay close together and not spread apart. Immediately coat a shrimp with a little batter and place on top of the sweet potatoes, pressing it firmly down and holding it there for a few seconds with some tongs. The shrimp will stick onto the sweet potatoes, but you might want to spoon over some hot oil the shrimp to cook the batter sealing the shrimp on.
Fry to golden brown on each side and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately or you can make some in advance and quickly heat it under the broiler to regain that crunch.